In search of pipeline analysis
March 19, 2006 7:25 PM   Subscribe

BusinessAnalysisFilter: I've been out of the Business Analysis sector for about 6 years, and I'm giving some serious thought to heading back in that direction. In looking at a particular job description I've encountered a term I'm not familiar with, and general interest, as well as not wanting to sound ignorant if I apply for that particular job, leads me to ask...

In terms of Business Analysis, what would be meant by the term 'pipeline analysis'? Searching the web turns up the term, in context of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications, but generally only in a self-evident way, as in: "Yes! Our app does pipeline analysis! Wheee!" and so on.

The job description in particular is for a sales force Business Analyst, and my rough guess is that it may have something to do with reporting various stages of the sales cycle (ie from customer contact, to sale, to fulfillment, to followup and aftersale etc), but I don't like rough guesses, particularly when I realize I could be wildly wrong.

So, I'm wondering if any of the other business-oriented MeFites might have a better understanding of this term, and how a Business Analyst might (in general terms) go about fulfilling an expectation for 'pipeline reporting and analysis' targeting a sales workforce in a competitive environment?

Disclaimer: I'm not looking for anyone to write a job application for me, I just want to understand this concept to some extent.
posted by planetthoughtful to Work & Money (7 answers total)
I believe it has to do with just-in-time and low inventory practices.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2006

Best answer: I don't think it's "just in time" manufacturing. I think it's exactly what you describe in your original question as the stages of a sale.

If each sales opportunity has a certain percentage of closing, seeing all of the opportunities, at stage of the sale they're at, weighted (or sorted) by their likelyhood of closing, that is a "pipeline analysis". One needs to be sure that he's / she's got enough sales opportunities at the "customer contact" stage of devleopment, so that he or she can hit the numbers for the month.
posted by zpousman at 8:07 PM on March 19, 2006

Best answer: planetthoughtful, I don't think you're "wildly wrong" here. zpouseman is right, it's basically the sales cycle with a fresh coat of jargon.

Trust your instincts and work from the fundamentals, and it'll be fine. Sales has changed little, really, since Willy Loman.
posted by Pliskie at 8:20 PM on March 19, 2006

Best answer: It has to do with the prospect/suspect/lead/client's position in the sales pipeline. This view differs from the traditional view of sales as a funnel. If you don't have a solid background in CRM and sales analysis, the job likely isn't the best fit for you. But you can ramp up to get it through further experience.
posted by acoutu at 8:23 PM on March 19, 2006

Oh, btw, if you do decide to go after the job, read up on sales pipelines. Companies who use "pipeline" and not "funnel" do not use "customer contact, to sale, to fulfillment, to followup and aftersale" as terms and may shy away from job applicants who do. Go work for a company that uses "pipeline" and has a CRM you can analyze. You'll be set.
posted by acoutu at 8:26 PM on March 19, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to all - your answers have been very helpful. Thanks in particular to acoutu for the tip on searching for "sales pipeline" - that's turned up some interesting reading material where "pipeline analysis" didn't.
posted by planetthoughtful at 8:48 PM on March 19, 2006

This seems to be the jargon for our using sales team. Might be worth a look at that to get a handle on what the hippest CRM stuff looks like.
posted by bystander at 2:32 AM on March 20, 2006

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